Home Collections Women at Home and Abroad Diaries

Mrs. Adams Collection
Mss 698 1835 A211
Notebook detailing the travel expenses of Mrs. Adams and her children while on a trip to Ohio in 1834.

Jeremiah Davis Collection
Mss 1 1787-1822 D261
Contains stories and drawings made by a young girl at the end of the nineteenth century.

Gardner Family Collection
Mss 899 1780-1934 G226
The records of the Gardner family of Boston and Salem, Massachusetts, dating from the late eighteenth to the twentieth century, contain legal papers relating to issues of dower and inheritance, trust accounts, and guardianship accounts. The collection also includes a woman's diary written on a trip to Europe in 1849 and silhouettes of women of the family.

E. W. Peirce Collection
Mss 414 1877-1911 P616
Diary used by a schoolgirl in the early twentieth century.

Ship Reindeer Collection
Mss 252 1852-1860 R364
Diary of Adra Ashley, written while she was traveling on a whaling ship between Hawaii and New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Ship William Wirt Collection
Mss 252 1853-1857 R364
Diary of Adra Ashley, written while on her voyage to Hawaii from New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Wendell Family Collection
Mss 733 1722-1865
Includes women's personal correspondence, essays and school papers, and John Dorr's diary and eulogy for his wife, Esther Goldthwait Dorr. The collection also contains letters written to Anne Rindge between 1742 and 1748 regarding her shipping interests, and the papers of Dorothy Wendell, who ran a cattle farm in the early part of the nineteenth century.

Whiton and March Collection
Mss 761 1843-1857 W623
A diary kept by Mary Elizabeth Whiton between 1874 and 1906, describing the important events in the lives of her family.

Click for larger image
Page from Adra Ashley's diary, written on the ship Reindeer, 1860.

Adra C. (Braley) Ashley was the wife of Captain Edward R. Ashley. They were married in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Early in their marriage, she accompanied him on a whaling trip in the Pacific. They resided on Hilo, Hawaii for three years, from 1857-1860, during which time they had their first child.

While travelling home from Hawaii, Adra kept a diary describing the journey. Adra wrote this volume to one of her "whaling sisters" on Hilo and she gives a thorough account of family life on ship, including illnesses, games, and even arguments.

One of the most interesting passages in the diary discusses a visit to Aitutake on the Cook Islands on December 20, 1859. After the visit, Adra described her impressions of the wharf, the market, encounters with the native islanders, and supper with a family of English missionaries, the Beals. Of this experience, she wrote:

The wharf was lined with natives and they all wanted to shake hands and say Good Morning! (for that is the way they accost strangers instead of Aloha as the Hawaiians do). The [market] building was full and it seemed as though there were about five hundred Kanakas around me at once each one trying to get nearer than the others to make me buy his eggs, shells, corals, pine apples, piggs and chickens. O what a hurly burly! I thought I should fly. One old man seemed to be a little more considerate than the rest, sat down and fanned me. And I felt quite grateful to him, for it was exceedingly close... We visited all the public buildings, which consisted of a schoolhouse, and meeting house and very respectable looking ones they were. Over five hundred children attend that one school. Mr. and Mrs. Beals are the teachers. The Kanakas were very much pleased with Eddie and one nearly insisted on buying him for a hundred coconuts, but we thought we might do better and refused him.

Home Collections Women at Home and Abroad Diaries
Copyright 2010 President and Fellows of Harvard College